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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

To start off, I would just like to say that I’ve never watched the Oscars/Academy Awards before this year. I know this award show can be pretty controversial, just like any other one, but I’ll try not to get too political…that might be hard though.

I decided to watch the Oscars this year because as a kid I remember the Kid’s Choice Awards would almost always fall on my birthday weekend. I would have big sleepovers every year and all my friends and I would tune in to watch on Nickelodeon. The Kid’s Choice Awards was probably the last awards show that I’ve watched in full. Almost every year during awards show season, there’s some drama that’s talked about the next day that I know nothing about. This year was the year that I decided I was going to be ahead of what was trending on Twitter and let me tell you, I was not disappointed. Let’s get into the drama!

Right out of the gate, I was HOOKED. The people who run the show really knew what they were doing. Venus and Serena Williams opened the show and looked absolutely stunning. Both of their dresses put my jaw on the floor. Then it got even better when they introduced BEYONCE. If you know anything about me, Beyonce has been and always will be an idol to me. A true icon. I almost cried when I saw her, she’s been pretty under the radar ever since she had the twins so I was beyond excited to see her perform. She performed her song “Be Alive” from The Lion King soundtrack. Beyonce and all her dancers had neon green outfits and they performed flawlessly, as always. Towards the end though, I noticed that Blue Ivy was dancing front and center! That was just the icing on the cake for me. I figured the rest of the awards show would be downhill from there because how can anyone top Beyonce??

After the strong opening, the three hosts were introduced. Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes and Regina Hall came out swinging. Immediately, I was distracted by Schumer’s hair. I’ve never been a huge fan of her, but the hair was just odd to me. Only one piece was curled in the front and the rest was straight. But then the boldness of their jokes caught me even more off guard. In addition, they talked in-depth about the lack of diversity in the previous years of the Oscars and chanted “gay” probably ten times in protest of Florida’s recent “Don’t Say Gay” bill. After Schumer’s opening monologue, she then made jokes about siblings Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal being a couple, Jennifer Lawrence gaining weight (she’s pregnant) and Leonardo DiCaprio’s very young girlfriend. But what really stuck out to me was that she mispronounced Disney’s movie Encanto—ugh!

Ariana DeBose from West Side Story took home the first award for best actress in a supporting role. I haven’t seen the remake, but I loved the original. After hearing her acceptance speech, I will definitely give it a watch. It was her first nomination for an Oscar and she’s also the first queer woman of color to win the award. A very memorable and heartwarming moment for sure. Her speech was beautifully worded, she was happy that she found her way through art and said her winning the award proved that “there is indeed a place for us.” An absolute queen <3

Now, it was Regina Hall’s turn for her opening monologue. Amy Schumer’s was a little rough and awkward to watch, but at least it wasn’t Regina’s. I didn’t know who she was before the Oscars, but now I’m kind of glad that I didn’t. She joked about how some of the COVID tests were lost before the show and that certain people needed to follow her backstage to get them redone. She called up four attractive male celebrities, told them to take their clothes off, and said she was going to swab the back of their mouth with her tongue, AND record. Then she continued to pat each person down…the audience all looked either shocked or uncomfortable. Billie Eilish’s face was my favorite. I’m glad she kind of distracted me from the weird “joke.” If a male celebrity made that joke on stage and patted down a bunch of female celebrities, I’m sure he would’ve gotten in MAJOR trouble.

To start off the second hour, Troy Kotsur from the movie Coda won best actor in supporting role. I wasn’t sure what the movie was about but in the previews that were shown, the actors and actresses were using sign language. Troy Kotsur is actually deaf, I’m not sure if everyone else from the cast is as well, but he went up for his acceptance speech with his translator to tell the story about how his father was his biggest motivation. His father was in a tragic car accident and was partially paralyzed, so he was unable to use sign language to communicate. Very heartbreaking. He got a standing ovation where the audience did their applause in sign language. I almost cried again, but then I laughed because John Legend was one of the only people clapping like he normally would. Poor guy didn’t get the memo.

The movie Cruella then won best costume design, I hadn’t seen that movie either but based on the previews I think it was well deserved. Now, it was time for "We Don’t Talk About Bruno" to be performed from the movie Encanto. Sadly, I was disappointed. I think they were trying too hard. I would’ve loved to see the original cast shine more, but instead we mostly distracted by Megan Thee Stallion, Becky G, and Luis Fonsi. They all looked and sounded great, no hate to any of them, but I just wish that they wouldn’t have taken away the spotlight from the people who worked so hard to actually write and perform the song. It was impossible not to focus on the other celebrities, especially Megan because her dress was awesome. We also learned that the awards given out at the Oscars are actually modeled after a Mexican American actor named Emilio Fernandez. I loved the Hispanic representation since I’m Puerto Rican, but I was a little disheartened to see our voices being a little overshadowed.

Now, we move on to the one and only Billie Eilish. I am a HUGE fan of hers. She performed her song "No Time to Die" from the recent James Bond movie No Time to Die. I loved hearing her live, I feel like her music has so much emotion and passion behind every word and that’s just escalated times ten when you get to hear her live. It was flawless. The singing was great, the visuals were very Billie, and we saw Beyonce clapping very proudly at the end. Billie also ended up winning best song over Beyonce later in the show. It was such all such a pure moment, it felt like she turned the stage into her concert. I forgot I was even watching the Oscars.

Dune won two more awards, then Wanda Sykes stepped out to introduce Chris Rock in what I think was my favorite look of the night. She had a sparkly maroon/purple blazer and pants. She rocked it for sure.

Now for the moment we’ve all been waiting for, the slap. I’m sure you all have heard about the Will Smith and Chris Rock situation, so I won’t get too far into it. But basically, Chris Rock was cracking jokes about some of the couples in the front row. He made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith, Will’s wife that Will laughed at initially but then turned the tables. Jada did NOT like this joke. Once Will realized his wife was upset, he walked up on stage to slap Chris Rock. Then the audio went silent as we saw Will screaming from the audience at Chris. A very confusing moment the first time you watch it. Considering the fact though that Will and Chris have known each other for years and are both comedians, I did not expect Will to blow up like that. Will has also opened up about how his father was very abusive to him and his mother and how he’s spent his entire life resenting him. Then there are people who think the entire situation was staged. All things to consider before making any judgments on the situation. Celebrities are human too and I think a lot of people forget that. Chris handled it very well though and moved on to announce the next nominations.

Questlove, who you might know because of Jimmy Fallon, won his first Oscar. He won the feature documentary for Summer of Soul. It was a very heartwarming moment, but it’s sad that the slap happened right before his speech. It was an amazing speech, he got very choked up talking about how the film sheds light on the marginalized people in Harlem trying to heal. But I feel like it was hard to focus on his win considering the slap situation. Throughout the speech, I noticed Chris communicating with someone in the front row about what had just happened. I saw him shake his head and shrug his shoulders sadly. I felt really bad for Chris because he was processing the entire event on live television for the entire country to see.

Then Dune won another award, is anyone shocked? The next award was for best actor in a leading role. Later I found out this was one of the biggest awards to win. Will Smith won for his performance in the movie King Richard where he played Venus and Serena Williams’ father. Him and Jada celebrated as if they weren’t involved in any drama five minutes before. His acceptance speech was very confusing considering what had just happened. He walked on stage already in tears and stated that in King Richard, he had to play a father who was a “fierce protector of his family” and that because of this he felt “called on in life to love and protect his people.” But then he said that sometimes “people disrespect you and you have to smile and pretend like it’s okay.” He then apologized to the academy and the nominees, but NOT to Chris Rock, which is the moment I was waiting for. Jada had a very suspicious smirk during the VERY long speech. It felt strange. He then left the stage saying, “I hope the academy invites me back.” Very suspenseful.

Amy Schumer came out after his speech and asked if she missed anything because she said the vibes were off, obviously referring to the slap. This was her first and only joke I laughed at the entire night. Tiffany Haddish also gave her a fist bump. Amy then continued to call Kirsten Dunst, who was nominated for best actress in a supporting role, a “seat-filler” and made her get out of her seat so she could sit down and talk to her husband about how great he is. It gave me a really gross feeling inside. I didn’t know who Kirsten Dunst was, but she was up for a big award and definitely wasn’t a seat-filler. I’m glad her husband stood up for her without slapping anyone. I don’t think I could’ve handled the drama of another slap happening.

Jessica Chastain then won best actress in a leading role for Coda, another huge award to win. She also had one of the best acceptance speeches of the night. She talked about how much the pandemic has affected everyone’s mental health and how suicide has been a huge topic, especially in the LGBTQ+ community. She had a lot of bold statements about how our country is dividing us through violence and how we should be able to live our lives through “radical acts of love” and not through the fear of violence. Very ironic considering the violence we witnesses earlier through the slap. She ended her speech by telling the audience to remember that “you are unconditionally loved for the uniqueness that is you.” Her entire speech was just very well spoken, it hit home.

Lastly, Coda won again for best picture of the year. This was the third nomination and third win for the movie, meaning they won every nomination they had, which is incredible. A very good note to end on, but then when the credits rolled for the Oscars, Will Smith’s face was the last to be shown. I know the montage for the credits was probably pre-recorded, but it still felt weird after that speech and after everything else that happened.

To reflect on my first time watching the Oscars, it was an absolute rollercoaster. I loved the drama, but it all felt a little too real. I didn’t enjoy the tension caused by certain moments because I could tell some of the celebrities were hurt or felt incredibly awkward and I knew that some of the jokes also probably didn’t sit well with some of the viewers either. Would I watch the Oscars again? My answer is a huge maybe. I feel like after this year, the academy (I hope) would be a little more organized. A lot of it seemed unscripted or there was very little approval of some of the jokes that happened. It was also a very long three hours for someone who didn’t see a lot of the movies. But we’ll see what the future holds.

Bella Sibenaller

Illinois State '23

Hi, my name is Bella and I'm a junior here at Illinois State. I'm a psychology major, but I'm also going into nursing. At ISU, I am also apart of the National Society for Leadership and Success and currently serve as the social chair. My hometown is Charleston, Illinois. It's a super small town south of ISU. In my free time, I enjoy hanging out with friends and Facetiming my eight year old sister. If you have any questions about Her Campus or any of the other organizations I'm involved in, please reach out! My Instagram is @bellajsib.
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